Design of cell-type-specific hyperstable IL-4 mimetics via modular de novo scaffolds

Nat Chem Biol. 2023 Sep;19(9):1127-1137. doi: 10.1038/s41589-023-01313-6. Epub 2023 Apr 6.


The interleukin-4 (IL-4) cytokine plays a critical role in modulating immune homeostasis. Although there is great interest in harnessing this cytokine as a therapeutic in natural or engineered formats, the clinical potential of native IL-4 is limited by its instability and pleiotropic actions. Here, we design IL-4 cytokine mimetics (denoted Neo-4) based on a de novo engineered IL-2 mimetic scaffold and demonstrate that these cytokines can recapitulate physiological functions of IL-4 in cellular and animal models. In contrast with natural IL-4, Neo-4 is hyperstable and signals exclusively through the type I IL-4 receptor complex, providing previously inaccessible insights into differential IL-4 signaling through type I versus type II receptors. Because of their hyperstability, our computationally designed mimetics can directly incorporate into sophisticated biomaterials that require heat processing, such as three-dimensional-printed scaffolds. Neo-4 should be broadly useful for interrogating IL-4 biology, and the design workflow will inform targeted cytokine therapeutic development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytokines*
  • Interleukin-4*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Interleukin-4
  • Cytokines